If you miscarried, would you name the baby, hold a funeral?

TV reality mom Michelle Duggar recently miscarried in the sixth month of pregnancy. She announced that she plans to name the baby as well as hold a funeral.

I know many people feel strongly about the Duggars choosing to have so many kids but I don’t really want this to be about beating up on the Duggars. (They’ve just lost a baby for goodness sake!) I wanted to discuss the ideas of naming a baby that you have lost and on holding a funeral.

From The Huffington Post:

“The risk of miscarrying in the first trimester is 15 percent, according to  Dr. George Macones, an OB-GYN at Washington University in St. Louis but in the second, it drops to just one or two percent. Conceptually, at least, it would seem that the farther along you are in a pregnancy physically, the more difficult it would be to cope with the loss emotionally. But studies don’t support that assertion.”

“Women themselves will say, ‘How can a loss at 20-plus weeks be the same as a loss at six weeks?’” said Emma Robertson Blackmore, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center who has studied moods during pregnancy, post-partum depression and the effects of miscarrying. “But research says the level of symptoms and impairment is the same.”

“Though Duggar was six months along, the move on her part to name the child and hold a funeral service is both common and even beneficial, according to Robertson Blackmore.”

“Some women just can’t bear the thought of doing either. The shock is so much that they’re almost in denial, whereas others feel it’s very important to recognize the baby. A name literally names it. They can really let the grief process take its normal course,” she said.”

My mother had a miscarriage very early in her second pregnancy. I believe they just took the fetus away and that was it. My brother had been born about a year earlier with a congenital heart problem and was very ill. I think she had to keep her focus on the baby that was alive and needed her help.

To my knowledge I haven’t had a miscarriage. I think if I were six-months along I absolutely would want to name the baby and hold the baby and have a burial for the baby.

If you’ve had a miscarriage how have you handled it? Is there a point in the pregnancy where it becomes more important to see, hold, name and bury the baby?

63 comments Add your comment


December 12th, 2011
12:35 am

I would think that would very much depend on the woman — unless you’ve had a miscarriage, it’s very difficult to predict how you will react. The youngest surviving preemie was 21 weeks, just earlier this year, and that was a miracle — goodness knows what kind of developmental challenges the baby will face in its life. I would think that when you got to a point in the pregnancy where any survival would have been possible, it would be harder, and the Duggars were right there on the cusp. I don’t have any opinion on whatever methods someone would choose to cope with their grief — name it, don’t name it, bury it, cremate it — whatever gives them peace and closure. Funerals are for the living, to help them come to grips with loss.


December 12th, 2011
1:46 am

I have had two miscarriages in the 2nd trimester and both times I wasn’t given an option to see the baby after, I was losing lots of blood and required surgery both times and so I think it wasn’t an option. Then I had a stillbirth at 36 weeks delivered via emergency c-section. Yes, indeed there was a huge difference! I did name my son, and a death certificate was issued, though I did not hold a funeral. I was distraught and wanted to be left alone, not burdened with people. I have delivered babies earlier than 34 weeks that are healthy, smart, lively children so yes, the loss at 36 weeks was unbelievably hard.


December 12th, 2011
3:11 am

My sister-in-law miscarried a few years ago and the hospital in Dallas, TX had a small plot of adjacent land dedicated to burials for just such tragic occasions. I have always thought that was such a caring and lovely way to deal with what is obviously a painful event. The mother, family and friends are invited to the graveside memorial.

Shannen Anthony

December 12th, 2011
3:13 am

I too lost a baby at that time and I named him and buried him as well. First and foremost the term miscarriage should be discarded altogether at this stage. They also termed my “spontaneous abortion” which is repulsive and offensive. I gave birth to my son. At 20 weeks gestation you are allowed a birth certificate and social security number for your baby. Michelle Duggar did not just miscarry, she delivered that child. She went through the labor pains and pushing just like a woman at full term. She held that baby until the coroner could arrive, in my case it took five hours. The hospital took photos, wrapped the baby in a blanket, and the family said their goodbyes. Now how many parents could simply let the hospital throw your baby away? Some may, some may not. I got to bury my son and put some personal belongings in his casket. I had to go home to a nursery and take it all down. It doesn’t simply end with the pregnancy. It took me three years of grieving and I am so glad I have a place to visit and my two other children know who their big brother is. My son died of a brain disease, not a miscarriage. To me a miscarriage occurs early in pregnancy when you do not know the sex of the baby and can happen anywhere at any time. My water broke, I was in labor for 24 hours, I had an epidural, contractions, pushed…. My son, although smaller in size, had 10 fingers, 10 toes, little ribs, knees, and a face. The only difference is the baby I held afterwards died in my arms. Most of the time they are still alive at birth. Their baby obviously had medical problems or else it would have not occurred but chances are that baby took its last breath in mommy or daddy’s arms. If someone wishes or does not wish to have a ceremony that is their right and no one can or should judge them…


December 12th, 2011
6:15 am

Shannen Anthony, my heart goes out to you. What a beautiful, but sad post.

I have not miscarried, however I have friends and family who have. This is such a deep loss. I understand the want and need for a funeral and burial. My cousin even had pictures taken of her late term loss and sent those in her Christmas Card one year. It looked like a sleeping baby.

Jess Williams

December 12th, 2011
6:32 am

I did no miscarry. I had a c-section because my 32 week gestational baby girl was wrapped in the cord. I did not name her nor did we have a funeral. Her ashes are buried at my mother’s grave. I don’t name my kids until I meet them and know their personality and what they look like. I never knew her so I did not name her. I never held her. I do have pictures and keepsakes from the hospital. I did not want to deal with it at the time. I just wanted to get home to my living children. Everyone grieves in their own way. This is how I dealt with it.


December 12th, 2011
6:45 am

My wife miscarried a few months ago and it was one of the hardest things we had ever gone through, especially since it was going to be our first child. The hardest thing about it was just two weeks before, we had decided to go ahead and tell our parents and close friends. Once we found out the news that she has miscarried, it took a toll on her emotionally that took about six weeks to really get over. For me, I had the unfortunate task of letting family and friends know what had happened, which was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life…which includes going overseas in the military and any class I ever took in college. We decided to name the baby, knowing that the baby now will be called by name in heaven. We’ll never forget the lost baby, but we know we do have to move on. That process, I just found out, is starting to begin. My wife is pregnant again, just a few weeks in, but we are overjoyed. There’s a little apprehension because of what happened last time, but we’re not going to sit around waiting for the worst to happen. We’re expecting that my the middle/end of summer, we’re going to have a new child. We’ll leave all the details up to God.


December 12th, 2011
6:57 am

I think whatever the parents want to do is just right. No one should judge or decide for them. I never miscarried but if I had I believe I would have wanted to name the baby (I already would have, in my mind) and had a quiet service, if the pregnancy had gotten to the point that I could feel movement. Before that, I don’t know. I feel so sad for those who go through this.


December 12th, 2011
7:13 am

Shannen Anthony, I too agree, your post was both beautiful and sad. My wife and I lost our 2nd child at 13 weeks… It was just liek the scene from marley and me, when they are at the Dr office and no heartbeat is heard. That is the saddest I have ever been, but I had to be strong for my wife, But I was torn up inside. We named the baby a neutral name, and since then we have had a healthy baby girl. It gets easier, but you never forget your child that is taken.


December 12th, 2011
7:23 am

I think it’s incredibly selfish for adults to be buried, so I certainly wouldn’t have my child buried. Can’t really say what we would do about the name situation, since we haven’t gone through it, thankfully. Much respect to those of you that have and share your experiences, however.


December 12th, 2011
7:36 am

I have misscarried twice. The first time I was 7 months and was dying and was not aware of what was going on. The second time I gave birth to my son at 6 months. He passed just before his birth. I was given the choice of giving him a name (Gabrielle Christopher) and also had a service before I was discharged from the hospital. I was happy that I had the chance to hold him and also give him a name. My heart ached during both occasions but I am so thankfull that I had the opportunity to have a little service and the hospital supplied me with pictures, his cap and blanket. Thank you Northside Hospital(Atl)


December 12th, 2011
7:50 am

Our miscarriage was early. We had just announced it to our families and, initially, I felt so betrayed by my body. Then, it became a time of great sharing as other women came forward and told me of their own miscarriage experiences. As these women and couples came forward, our own loss became more natural and we rejoiced that we had had this opportunity. We could not spend our time in mourning. When others called it a tragedy, blaming God, and tried to force us to be depressed, we turned to the Bible readings of our marriage, readings of affirmation and love, and celebrated. It might have been different had it been a later death. But I believe that a funeral can be a celebration. It is an acknowledgement of the pain and is a ceremony to share the stories, and work towards healing. A funeral is entirely appropriate for those who would feel comforted by it.


December 12th, 2011
7:50 am

Our first was delivered by C Section at 24 weeks, because I was bleeding internally with no external bleeding. Long story, but we knew the baby had died before going into the operating room, I had seen the sonogram they did and could see that there was no heartbeat. This was after having a sonogram earlier in the doctor’s office and got to see the heartbeat and the baby moving. This sonogram, that was done in the hospital, there was no movement, and no heartbeat, so I knew that something was terribly wrong. That was 27 years ago, and on the second day of recovery in the hospital, a social worker came to my room and asked what we wanted to do with the baby. She said we had three choices, we could bury her, have her cremated, or I could sign papers having her sent to the medical school where they would use her for teaching purposes to try and find out exactly what happened to cause her to be still borne. I told that lady that I wasn’t signing anything until I could see her. She left, and about an hour later, one of the doctors who had helped with the C section, (not my OB) came in and said he understood I wanted to see my baby. I told him yes, and I wasn’t going to make any decision until I saw her. He looked reluctant, but a few minutes later they brought her to me, wrapped in a pink blanket. I just wanted to make sure that she was developing the way they said she was, and she was a tiny, little perfect girl. They said she weighed 17 ounces. I gave her back to them and told them I would decide by the next day.

I talked it over with my husband, and he said the decision was mine to make, that he would be OK with what I wanted to do. I decided to have her sent to the medical school, in hopes that maybe they could discover what happened to her and help prevent it from happening again. My OB came in that evening, and told me that he would have talked me out of seeing her if he had been there. I asked him why, and he said that most people think of the gerber baby on tv, when they think of the baby, and he knew she wouldn’t look like that. I told him to chill out, that I knew she wouldn’t look like that, that I had been to the museum of science and industry in Chicago, where they have a photos of a baby during each week of pregnancy on display, and that I wanted to make sure that my baby looked like the one in the photo at her age. He looked at me, and said, “I forget, you’re different from most of my patients”. I am a civil engineer, and at that time, he hadn’t had many female engineers as patients, asking him all the questions, and things that I had discussed with him during the pregnancy.

I say all this to repeat what others have said, that this is a very personal decision, and each mom has to make the decision that she thinks is best for her. We had two other beautiful girls, and the youngest is now in medical school. She knows about her oldest sister, and I think because of that, it helps her to have the greatest respect for the cadavers that she veiws in school. I think she knows what a sacrifice it is for people to allow their loved ones to be used to help train our doctors of the future.

mystery poster

December 12th, 2011
7:58 am

I miscarried at 13 weeks. The midwife came to my house and I pushed for 4 hours. It did not look like a baby when it came out. I think that it would have been a lot different had it had 10 little fingers and toes, but it did not. Although that was 20 years ago, I still think a lot about what might have been if I had had that child.


December 12th, 2011
8:11 am

My best friend went to the hospital for bleeding 6 months along in her pregnancy. She had to have an emergency C-Section because they couldn’t hear the baby’s heartbeat. Her baby was stillborn. She already had a name for her little girl and had a funeral for her a week later. I believe that if you are THAT far along, that you should (if it’s your decision) have a funeral, and if you’re are unlike my friend and already named her child before she was born, I think it’s also your decision to name that baby.


December 12th, 2011
8:14 am

I disagree with the medias characterization that this was a miscarriage. At this stage she knew the gender. The baby was only a week or so from viability. This was a still birth. Not a miscarriage.


December 12th, 2011
8:15 am

I think that if I miscarried in the third trimester, I would definitely want to do something to remember/honor the baby. I probably wouldn’t have a funeral, but some type of small memorial service. Like some of the posters above, I have had two first trimester miscarriages, so a funeral was not even an option.


December 12th, 2011
8:23 am

I miscarried with my first child. My first child would have been 23 in January. I am always a little sad and think of her (I always felt the baby was a girl.) then. Because I always thought of the baby as “her”, I had already named her – Anna Elizabeth. Though I have two wonderful sons, I will never forget that small child.


December 12th, 2011
8:30 am

Of my nine pregnancies, only one produced a viable child, my wonderful, adorable daughter. I am a very private person, and my way of handling miscarriage or stillbirth each time was to put it behind me and quietly move on. I understand that this doesn’t work for everyone, but it did for me. I did not want others to be uncomfortable around me with their healthy babies or to think of me as “the girl who had the miscarriages.” I can freely play with peoples’ babies, or ooh and aah over cute baby videos without anybody trying to second guess my feelings.


December 12th, 2011
8:41 am

Oh wow, I just can’t imagine this. I don’t know what I would do and I honestly do not even want to think about it. I think the parents should do whatever brings them peace. Period.


December 12th, 2011
9:05 am

I agree with others who have posted already. At this stage, I wouldn’t consider it miscarriage, it is more stillborn. I miscarried before at 8 weeks, and there was nothing there to name or bury being that I passed it. Whatever the family decides is best for them should not be met with criticism. People always want to point the finger and judge what they would do in a situation that is someone else’s pain.


December 12th, 2011
9:09 am

I have no experience with a miscarriage and thus no valid opinion nor advice. My heart goes out to those above who have lost a child. May you find peace in however you choose to deal with the situation. Blessings to you.
@pws…I do remember the exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry and it made an impact on me as a child and then later as an adult.


December 12th, 2011
9:24 am

As an OB nurse I have cared for families who have lost babies at all stages of gestation. Each person grieves and handles the situation in their own way. But most moms want the opportunity to see their baby. We take pictures even if they don’t want them – many request them later. Also, some moms keep their baby in their room until they are discharged. It’s the only opportunity she will have to mother that child. Either way, the baby doesn’t leave the hospital until the mom is discharged home. That way her baby is there if she wants to see him.

However or whenever it happens, it is heartbreaking.


December 12th, 2011
9:31 am

@Ann – your post really hit home with me. I also miscarried my 1st pregnancy. The baby was due in October 2001. I’ve since had 2 healthy girls that I thank God for everyday but I can’t help but think about the baby I lost. I don’t know if it was a boy or girl; I just know the very second I learned I was pregnant, I loved that baby with all my heart and always will.


December 12th, 2011
9:43 am

Wow, for once everyone agrees that this is truly a personal decision.

I can’t imagine the grief that one goes through in this type of situation and totally agree that it’s an individual choice.

An interesting side note as I have a friend whose brother and his wife just went through this. He was absolutely devastated but felt like no one cared about his feelings. All the sympathy was given to his wife; which I understand. I think a lot of men wouldn’t want anyone to acknowledge what happened publicly and would simply want to just try to move on. BUT not all men feel this way.


December 12th, 2011
9:44 am

My condolences to all of you who have gone through such an issue. I can’t begin to imagine but will give in the only way I can; being supportive.


December 12th, 2011
10:15 am

I had 3 miscarriages, all in the first trimester. Back then, before sonograms, etc., it was not possible to detect the gender of the child. I was so distraught that I allowed the hospital to “take care” of the miscarriage. I couldn’t name it, since I couldn’t know the gender. I just wanted to go home (the first time it was my first child, and I was heartbroken) and be alone with my husband. The 2nd time was different, in that I had given birth to a healthy daughter, and even though this child was wanted badly, I had a toddler at home that needed my full attention, and that helped me through it. I then gave birth to a healthy son, and when he was a toddler, I again miscarried. (I failed to mention that they could tell that the 2nd one was twins, which bad it even more difficult.) I think it is totally up to the parents what they do with the child’s remains, and no mother/father should be made to feel bad, no matter what their decision is. After all, they are feeling bad enough without hearing “You should have…”, etc. Leave them alone, except to offer SUPPORT.


December 12th, 2011
10:18 am

The Duggars are idiots and I don’t put any stock into anything they have to say or do.


December 12th, 2011
10:19 am

This is so heartbreakingly sad. I don’t have any personal experience with miscarriage/stillbirth, so I can’t begin to imagine the grief. Today’s posts, however, are all so eloquently written, that it is really like a tiny window into everyone’s heart. My prayers go out for all of you.

@chris – Congratulations to you and your wife. Best wishes.


December 12th, 2011
10:24 am

Chattanooga, TN is the home of the National Memorial for the Unborn. It’s a very peaceful place. They will do a memorial service for miscarried or aborted babies – any baby who does not make it to term for any reason. My son has a name, and he has a plaque on the wall at the Memorial. Even though it was a long time ago, it gave me closure to hold a memorial for him.


December 12th, 2011
10:27 am

I have to believe that God had a reason to take my three lost children…like health problems, etc.

Charlotte Fairchild

December 12th, 2011
10:28 am

I wrote Fertile Prayers: Daily Fertile Prayers when I was still a hospital chaplain. It is a daily devotional for people who experience miscarriage, infertility, and child loss. Fertile Prayers also helps couples who are anxious during a pregnancy because it discusses a problem and prays a transformation. There are no Bible verses. I named all of the embryos. I named all the babies that were lost during miscarriage. For people who believe the “material” should not be considered a baby, the potential is for a baby, not a turnip, so no matter what your philosophy, we can agree on some level. This is an ebook at Authorhouse.


December 12th, 2011
10:28 am

I’m fortunate to have never experienced this type of loss, but I think everyone grieves in their own way. We may knock the Duggars for their family planning choices, but those of us who’ve never miscarried can’t know the grief and emotions involved. So I say leave them alone to deal with this in their own way. In this instance, they aren’t hurting anyone.


December 12th, 2011
10:29 am

I don’t think I would have an actual funeral, but late in the 2nd trimester and definitely in the 3rd (which I would consider more of a stillbirth/infant death situation), I think it’s perfectly reasonable and normal to want to do something. To me, a miscarriage happens up to around the 5th month. I guess that 5th month would be a transition, but I can see someone doing something then as well.

It’s very sad for the family regardless -especially those who experience it over and over. I don’t wish to negate someone’s feelings who has miscarried at two or three months, but I think I would be far more traumatized and grief-stricken if I had to deliver a dead baby at 6 or 7 months. I think any sort of remembrance that helps a couple is fine though. Whatever gets you through.

Charlotte Fairchild

December 12th, 2011
10:32 am

Carewear.org will make clothing for babies who are stillborn or die through miscarriage. They do not charge anything. I found out about them through Farmer’s Supply. Compassionate Fashion writes stories about clothing made or given with compassion.


December 12th, 2011
10:37 am

@ Chris, congratulations and best wishes

@ Shannen Anthony, beatifully written, thank you.

I had a friend who miscarried many years ago, she was a few years younger than I, had a toddler daughter. I was in my early-mid twenties with no children. I managed to say all the wrong things, and I am sure hurt her while she was coping with the loss. To this day I feel so much shame for not being mature enough to understand what she was going through.


December 12th, 2011
10:38 am

I do remember reading (below, about miscarriage) in the book HEAVEN IS FOR REAL and it was something I had not thought about. Perhaps this would offer comfort to those here who have lost children:

But most poignantly, Colton described meeting a sibling in heaven — even though he had no way of knowing that his mother had miscarried two years before he was born, since his parents had never told him.

But the real shocker came when Colton told his mother, “Mommy, I have two sisters.” Sonja told her son that he had to be referring to his oldest sister, Cassie, and his cousin Traci, but he responded: “No — I have two sisters. You had a baby die in your tummy, didn’t you?”

Jimmy C

December 12th, 2011
10:40 am

My wife miscarried, so we named the baby Jesus hoping it would come back to life after 3 days.

Never happend.

The Reverend Baby Doctor Bedpan

December 12th, 2011
10:41 am

I don’t understand this family having dozen’s of children.

Humans are the only species on this planet to defy evolution.


December 12th, 2011
10:47 am

Technically, it can be called a miscarriage if gestation was less than 20 weeks. A fetus that dies while in the uterus after about the 20 – 24 week of pregnancy is termed stillbirth.


December 12th, 2011
10:53 am

I agree with the post as to whatever gives the mother and family closure is what they should do. Having had a miscarriage myself (12 weeks), I just didn’t want to know (if they could have told at that point) what the gender of the child was. Having had a boy – and hoping for a girl – I didn’t want to know what would have been. But, a funeral, naming, etc.? Um, no thanks.

Besides, with the Duggar family, their entire show/lives is based on popping out kids – I mean, that’s really it! I’m surprised that they would want to name the kid, as the list of potential names is narrowing down as the years go by.


December 12th, 2011
10:53 am

@MJG – I LOVED that book! I had goosebumps and cried…the Mom’s reaction to hearing Colton talk about meeting his sister in heaven was just beautiful.

It is a wonderful book for anyone who hasn’t read it.


December 12th, 2011
10:58 am

My prayers goes out to them for the lost of their child. I think it’s a personal choice. If this meant closure for them, then be it. I pray the Lord/God continue to bless this family. It’s very difficult for anyone to lose a child. It’s really sad. They have very strong faith and I’m certain they will survive this too. God Bless Them :)

Jesse's Girl

December 12th, 2011
11:19 am

Jesse and I lost our first baby….a girl….at 5 months. We had been married only a little over a year and I was very young and niave. I had no clue what was going on. I gave birth to our daughter, Shelby, in an insurance office. I was unaware of what that dull ache signified. Although…had I gone to the hospital as soon as I felt the pain, there would have been nothing anyone could have done. It was heart wrenching. We did not have a funeral. But we did name her…Shelby Grace…and I kept all of the things I had bought for her. I framed my sonogram photo and when we became pregant with our next child….that photo sat in the nursery to sort of watch over our new daughter. No one knows how they will handle something like this. And I pray for each and every soul sharing their very personal journeys today. (ps. i still think the duggars are bat s**t crazy…..but i wil always lift up a prayer for a healthy…loved….child. even if that child has gone to be with God)


December 12th, 2011
11:23 am

I have never dealt with this firsthand,so I can only say, whatever gives the parents comfort in their loss, is what they need to do..I think that a lot of what I (or others) might do, would depend on how far along the pregnancy is..

@Chris..Congrats to you and your wife..Will keep y’all in my thoughts and prayers..I have an older sister that suffered 3 miscarriages before she carried full term (with twins)..So hope that all goes well this time around..

@Shannon..I’m sorry for your loss also..So heartbreaking to have gone thru that..I can’t imagine holding my baby while waiting on the cornner to come get him..

Sue Shields

December 12th, 2011
11:27 am

Everyone handles these things differently and if this helps Michelle and her family with the grieving process then she should do it. I think it is beneficial to have a name and place to go (cemetary) to remember that child (and it IS a child). My husband’s mother had 12 children that lived and 2 at least that were full term or close to it that died…it was a long time ago when women had children at home and they didn’t have money for funerals or anthing like that. The babies were buried by the father near their homes at that time but if their was a marker it has been taken away by time. The parents are long since passed and now the family does not know where to find their graves. No death certificates were required at that time. I know at least my husband would like to know where those babies are so he could give them a proper burial alongside his parents but he can’t. I know the Duggars are faithful people and as she said they will see them in heaven. God’s will is hard to accept sometimes but it is just that God’s will and if you trust Him he will see you through anything.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

December 12th, 2011
11:43 am

I appreciate everyone sharing so much. I am just sitting here crying.

The Reverend Baby Doctor Bedpan

December 12th, 2011
11:47 am

K's mom

December 12th, 2011
12:02 pm

My first pregnancy was very difficult and I was on bedrest for 26 weeks (10 weeks to 36 weeks). I bled beginning at 6 weeks anytime I walked and I began having contractions at 18 weeks. I never believed I would bring a baby home until I heard him cry in the delivery room. I had been told for years I would never conceive and it just never seemed possible. Because of all of that, we found out his gender at 16 weeks and named him. My thought was that if I never brought him home, i would somehow know him. I was sooooo fortunate to get to bring him home and am thankful everyday for my blessing.

I am now 19 weeks pregnant again (again, they told us it would not happen) and he is named for the same reason.

My heart breaks for those of you that have had to make these horrible decisions. I agree that anything that gives you closure is the right thing.

K's mom

December 12th, 2011
12:09 pm

Jesse’s girl, your comment on Mrs. Duggar is spot on ;o)! I told my mom recently that I am thinking one of th older daughters is going to figure out what a raw deal she is getting, leave the flock, get a makeover and write a book on growing up with the crazies. It will be a best seller ;o)!